Residents should demand transparency

It isn’t hard to feel as though I’m beating a dead horse with continued coverage of the fallout from the special tax election Nov. 2.

The vote is in and it wasn’t even close. People did not like the idea of the general sales tax or how it was presented to them, then voted accordingly. Yet, even weeks after the election ended, many unanswered questions regarding election signs purchased by the Green River Chamber of Commerce remain.

What didn’t help was the fact that the chamber initially dodged several attempts to seek clarification and additional information about the issue, not just from the Star, but the Radio Network as well. Compound this with issuing a single-paragraph statement last week that did little to address the issue and further ignoring of follow up questions, and it isn’t hard to see a strategy of hunkering down and waiting for the whole thing to blow over.

That didn’t happen and the chamber this week issued a second statement Monday fleshing out the details about its involvement in paying for the signs and even a mea culpa from the chamber board of directors about what they could have done better and promising to take the time needed to do things properly.

Green River’s residents deserve transparency and should demand it at all times and this situation is representative of why they should. There is nothing transparent about a campaign sign being printed without clear information about who paid for it included on the sign. There’s nothing transparent about an organization that, according to Sweetwater County Clerk Cindy Lane, initially denied involvement in having the signs made and only placed stickers identifying themselves as the purchasers after it became evident the signs could be taken down for violating electioneering statutes. There’s nothing transparent about an organization that ignores requests for comment or questions from the media seeking a better understanding of the issue. There’s nothing transparent about the claims of wanting to use the signs to encourage voters to make their voices heard when this newspaper has already shown they were always meant to be campaign signs to counter signs created by the Sweetwater GOP.

Even without the emails from Sweetwater County Commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld saying as such, design cues on the signs themselves give it away. There is nothing educational about having the word “Support” as large as it was with a check mark placed over the O.

The lesson that anyone in government or an organization like the chamber should pull from the election signs issue is this: be transparent. Without transparency, people will not trust those organizations are acting in their best interests.


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